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  • Writer's pictureDAWG NEWS DAILY

Football Practice Report: Bulldogs Continue to Improve during Bye Week

ATHENS, Ga. – The 10th-ranked Georgia Bulldogs conducted a two-hour practice Wednesday during the program’s second bye week this season. 

Georgia (6-1, 3-1 SEC) faces the Florida Gators (7-1, 4-1 SEC) next Saturday, Nov. 2 in Jacksonville. Kickoff is set for 3:30 p.m., ET, on CBS.  

Before practice, Georgia head coach Kirby Smart participated in the SEC Football Weekly Media Teleconference and provided an update on the Bulldogs. Selected comments from Smart are below:

Opening Statement

“We started back yesterday, got some good work in. We’re working on future opponents the next two days before taking the weekend off for our players. It’s a chance for them to go back and spend time with their families and get back to work on Florida the beginning of next week.”

On his impressions of Florida quarterback Kyle Trask…

“He’s a good quarterback. He’s more athletic than you think he is. He does a good job running it, he’s got a good core of wide receivers, but to be honest I haven’t looked at them exclusively. We’re looking at them as well as some of the other teams we play. I think if you look across the board, they’ve got a really, really veteran receiver group, probably one of the best wide receivers if you include the tight end in that, probably in the country. And Kyle’s done a tremendous job coming in and taking over and not skipping a beat and Dan (Mullen) has always done a great job with his quarterbacks.”

On the cause of the offense’s struggles…

“I think fifty percent of that would be conditions with the Kentucky game, it was the biggest struggle. It was just tough for anybody to palm a ball and throw a ball and effectively catch it. I mean, we had DB’s dropping balls all over the place out there, interceptions late. It was tough on both sides. So that’s fifty percent of it. When you go back to South Carolina, there’s a lot of passes in that game for a Georgia football team. There were a lot of opportunities to pass it. In those cases, some of it was route running, some of it was quarterback decision making, there’s a lot of things. But there was a lot of opportunities in the South Carolina game to throw it and some of that was a little bit of continuity and chemistry and some of it was accuracy and some of it was protections. So, it was a combination of things.”

On the sense of urgency to bounce back against a top-10 opponent…

“I think our whole team is looking at the opportunity to play a top-10 team in Jacksonville regardless of how we have played or what we have done offensively, defensively, or special teams. You’re always looking forward to playing a top-10 team that’s a really well coached, good football team. Our guys are preparing for just getting better right now. We’re ‘going to see the doctor’ as I call it because we’re trying to get better at everything we do, not just Florida. We’re working on Georgia more than anything these practices to try and get fundamentally better.”

On first meeting Tae Crowder and envisioning his role in the future…

“I had known Tae, he had come to camp for several years at the University of Alabama. He came over there and was a prospect so I had a relationship with him. He kind of grew up as a receiver and then morphed into a running back as he got bigger and bigger. Then when I got to Georgia, he was in the backfield with a loaded, star-studded cast. It was going to be tough to get on the field, I think he knew that and we challenged him to create a role for himself on special teams. He started to do that and he started to compete on special teams and do some things. You saw his athleticism, he’s got great ball skills and growing up a receiver, he was a good athlete. We just went to him and said ‘you’re over on the scout team running the ball, do you want to jump in there and take some linebacker reps?’ He did that and as he took them, he got more and more athletic. It took him a while to understand defensive football but he bought into that and he’s become tougher with his years on defense.”

On the positives and negatives or staff changes…

“The benefit is fresh ideas, fresh energy. In our case, we hired mostly from within. Even when you hire and promote from within, you usually go out and get somebody new to come at a different position; it may not be a coordinator position. So, they bring new ideas, new energy, new thoughts, new drills, that’s always a benefit to me is a fresh voice and changing things up, so that’s important. One of the tougher things would be familiarity for kids of understanding what that coordinator might want in certain situations and what their standards are. I think that’s important. I think changing coaches is good for them, it invigorates them and creates a new energy and they feel like they’ve got to go prove themselves over again. Sometimes that’s good but sometimes it’s tough because of relationships you form and kids miss certain coaches that were recruiting them and that’s always tough. There’s positives and negatives for both.

Following practice, graduate tight end Eli Wolf, senior inside linebacker Tae Crowder, and senior running back Brian Herrien met with media. Here are some of their comments:

Graduate tight end Eli Wolf

On the tight ends blocking during the game...

“It means a lot when they trust us. We take pride in our position. We think we can get the job done. For them to say, hey this puts us in the best situation, it is a huge tribute to the guys in the tight end room. We are really excited about it.”

On what the coaches have been asking of the tight ends…

“We are doing whatever they ask us to do. Lately, it has been a lot of blocking. Especially, last week with the weather. When our number is called, we have to be there to make the play. I feel like earlier in the season we were doing that a lot, and we need to get back to that. Whatever they are asking us ,we are trying to do it at the highest level, and lately it has been protection in the run game.”

Senior inside linebacker Tae Crowder

On the team playing better...

“I feel like we always come together as a team. We stick together, we push each other. We come back each week and go to work. We just have to help each other as a team and we grow from that.”

Senior running back Brian Herrien

On the running game...

“I mean this is football. You cannot just run outside in every play. In the SEC, everybody is fast. Even the defensive line is fast, the tackles are fast enough to catch you running outside. But at the same time, the inside zone runs open up the outside zone runs and the outside zone runs open up the inside zone runs. I mean they complement each other. We just have to do it better.”

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